ASU dance organizations restructure meetings for fall semester

TikTok and YouTube videos have been adopted to promote dance while being safe

ASU student organizations specializing in dance reformatted meetings and added new events to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual dance instruction can be alienating, particularly for partner or group-based dance styles that don't lend themselves to social distancing. Nevertheless, organization leaders are aiming to continue holding meetings and adapting to new mediums.

University President Michael Crow reaffirmed its policy for on- and off-campus gatherings Tuesday, saying students hosting or attending gatherings that fail to adhere to public health protocols will be subject to suspension.

Samia Muraweh, a junior studying computer science and president of Dabke United, said her organization has been keeping members engaged by posting dance tutorials and other videos on its TikTok account.

Dabke is an ancient Levantine folk dance, Muraweh said. She said it originated from communities stamping out an area for house construction.

Dabke United has a performance team and holds workshops that are "open to anyone who's interested in it, even the Arab countries that don't have Dabke," Muraweh said.

"Going into this semester, our board is talking about ways that we're going to keep at least our workshop side active, even if we're not going to be super active as a team," Muraweh said. "We're just going to be hopefully hosting once-a-month live workshops, and then making YouTube videos."

Makenna Littell, a senior studying business sustainability and president of Hip Hop Coalition, said her organization moved its meetings online in mid-March and created a "quarantine video" in which videos of members dancing a routine from home were spliced together.

"What we're planning on doing is kind of following the lead of other dance crews and studios around the Valley and holding some classes every week at a different studio," Littell said. "We'll stay safe and have a limit on how many people can attend classes, but we’re still dancing together."

Littell said that "hip-hop (is) a culture and a dance style that was founded on the Black community," and added that the organization is hoping to do some community service and raise funds for local organizations in the coming months.

Jacqueline Johnson, a junior studying biological sciences and psychology and president of Devil DanceSport, said her organization is looking forward to hosting virtual events in collaboration with the ASU Salsa Club in the coming weeks.

Devil DanceSport is ASU's ballroom and Latin dance club that focuses on promoting ballroom as both a competitive sport and a social activity.

The organization began posting tutorial videos for various partner dance styles on its YouTube page for members to learn in the comfort of their own home.

"A lot of our stuff is going to be taking place with individuals at home, there’s a lot of technique you can do on your own for ballroom (dance)," Johnson said. "And then if you have someone at home with you, like a roommate… you're welcome to dance with them."

Constance-Sophie Almendares, a senior studying journalism and a co-president of Dancer's Society, said her organization, "the only dance club on the Downtown campus," is discussing the feasibility of holding in-person practices this semester and where they would take place if they do.

Dancer's Society is also open to collaborating with Tempe-based organizations and may look into hosting virtual events in the future, Almendares said.

Karina Chimal, a sophomore studying psychology and a member of Fusion Dance Squad, said her organization has been holding virtual dance classes where individuals can engage with numerous styles over several hours.

Fusion Dance Squad recently held a virtual fundraiser for various organizations, including The Trevor Project and a COVID-19 relief fund for Phoenix-based artists, Chimal said. The fundraiser consisted of alumni-led courses ranging from hip-hop dance to a heels class.

Chimal said the organization will only be holding virtual meetings for the foreseeable future "just so that we don't put anybody’s life at risk."


Reach the reporter at stellefs@asu.edu and follow @samtellefson on Twitter. 

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